International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno

By Jackson H. Ralston | Go to book overview
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139. Colonial and under Articles of Confederation . -- We are informed that an arrangement of difficulties between the early settlements in this country was in at least one instance secured through an arbitration. This was in 1650 between the Province of New York, then under Dutch control, and the colony of Connecticut. By agreement these difficulties were referred to the colony of Massachusetts for settlement. This was done at the instigation of Peter Stuyvesant of New Amsterdam, then governor, and was the result of an active correspondence carried on between him and John Eaton, governor of Connecticut. Our information with regard to this is but meager.1

Article IX of the Articles of Confederation of 1777 provided that "the United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more states concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner" set forth in the article in question. A summary of this manner is that there should be in the end five or more persons who would be commissioners or judges determining "the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination." The judgment and sentence were to be final and conclusive and the judges were to act under oath.

Under this provision one controversy was determined. This arose in 1782 between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, each claiming the same territory in the Valley of the Susquehanna River. The court sat at Trenton and its proceedings and decisions were recorded in the Journal of Congress. The Commissioners decided that

the State of Connecticut has no right to the lands in controversy. We are also unanimous of opinion that the jurisdiction and pre-emption of all the territory lying within the charter boundary of Pennsylvania, and now claimed by the State of Connecticut, do of right belong to the State of Pennsylvania.2

A number of territorial and other disputes between the states have

Article by Thomas Willing Balch, "Revue générale de droit international public", XXI ( 1914), 139, referring to Hoadly's Records of the Colony and Plantation of New Haven, 1638- 1649, pp. 507-36; Ebenezer Hazard, State Papers 1794, Vol. II, p. 154.
Journal of Congress for 1783, 129-140.


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International Arbitration, from Athens to Locarno
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